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Galwan Killings an End for Indo China relations – Burning Issues – Free PDF Download

  • For the last two months, China and India have been embroiled in a series of standoffs along their disputed Himalayan border that has become the worst crisis in Sino-Indian relations in over 50 years.
  • However, the still-unfolding standoffs represent a far more novel and consequential crisis, threatening the tenuous framework that has previously prevented China-India relations from devolving into open rivalry.

THIS TIME WAS DIFFERENT…

  • The Chinese military had massed thousands of soldiers and towed artillery at multiple non-contiguous locations along the LAC where the Indian union territory of Ladakh meets Tibet, even temporarily crossing the LAC near the Galwan River in May.

  • What’s worse, the Chinese army was probing in sectors of the LAC, including Sikkim and the Galwan River, long considered settled by New Delhi.
  •  Perhaps most concerning, the army seemed to be trying to alter the status quo by occupying a so-called gray zone along the banks of Pangong Lake, a particularly contentious stretch of the border where the very location of the LAC is disputed.

JUNE 6 TALKS THEN JUNE 15 CLASH

  •  On the night of June 15, the LAC witnessed a terrible spasm of violence near the Galwan River. The rules of engagement near the LAC bar the use of live ammunition—but not brutal, medieval combat.
  • Fighting along the narrow ridgeline of a Himalayan mountain, 20 Indian soldiers were killed. Some were beaten to death with metal rods and spiked clubs.
  • China hasn’t reported its own casualties, as “comparisons may trigger antagonism on both sides.”

BLAME GAME STARTED

  •  In the aftermath, Beijing and Delhi blamed each other for violating the LAC and initiating hostilities. Surprisingly, China also laid claim to the entire Galway River valley, a departure from outside analysts’ prior understanding of China’s claims there. Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar insisted China’s actions “reflected an intent to change the facts on the ground in violation of all our agreement.”

JUNE 22 TALKS

  • At the same time, both sides signaled their interest in further de-escalating the situation. Neither country has shown any interest in a wider conflict, and an 11-hour meeting between senior military commanders on June 22 focused on future steps for de-escalation.

SEVERAL THINGS TO NOTE HERE…

Galwan (New and Permanent Structures) Pangong (China enjoys advantage since 1999)

NEW REPORTS COMING IN SHOWING CHINESE STRUCTURES

  • First, recent reports aided by satellite imagery suggest that, far from disengaging from the site of the Galwan brawl, China appears to have substantially reinforced its position there. There are now Chinese defensive structures, shelters, trenches, and vehicles visible.
  •  Other reports suggest China continues to mass forces and erect structures near the LAC in other parts of the eastern sector, including the Depsang Valley.

PANGONG

  • Second, there’s a more intractable standoff unfolding farther south, at Pangong Lake.
  • With no mutual agreement on the LAC there, a several-kilometer stretch along the northern bank between spits of land known as “Finger 4” and “Finger 8” became a volatile gray zone, claimed and patrolled by both sides.
  •  Notably, China has enjoyed a superior position there, having built a road through the area in 1999, while Indian soldiers are forced by inhospitable geography to patrol the contentious stretch on foot.

INDIANS WERE ALREADY FURIOUS WITH CHINA OWING TO ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH PAKISTAN

  • A large and growing segment of the Indian elite had already grown increasingly disenchanted with China in recent years, frustrated by Beijing’s ongoing patronage to Pakistan.
  •  As a result, they have also grown increasingly desirous of a stronger partnership with the United States. People becoming wary of equidistance between Washington and Beijing.

EVIDENCE OF GROWING DISTANCE FROM CHINA

  • In early June, reports suggested India is considering inviting Australia to the Japan-India-U.S. trilateral naval exercise, Malabar. Beginning June 22, Chinese imports were reportedly being stalled at key Indian ports. Meanwhile, an article in India’s largest Hindi-language newspaper urges the Modi government to “reimagine its policies on Tibet, Taiwan, and Hong Kong” and “be prepared to exit organizations like the [Shanghai Cooperation Organization].”

  • India will likely review its approach to the broad spectrum of policies that fall within the China portfolio, from the Quad and the Belt and Road Initiative to the South China Sea and the Dalai Lama

  • Within days of the fighting, the Indian press reported Delhi will “bar Chinese companies from providing any telecom equipment to state-run telcos and may also prohibit private mobile phone operators from using gear supplied by the likes of Huawei and ZTE.”

  • “India will have to decide whether to reinforce a failed policy, or forge a new one which involves a much closer alliance with the US and its allies.” China’s actions, “achieved precisely the opposite of what it wanted — it has pushed India into much closer partnerships with the west.”

EVEN CHINESE EXPERTS THINK SIMILARLY

  • The China expert Yun Sun and others argue: that Beijing views India as a “lost cause” and that no amount of catering to Indian sensitivities will prevent it from aligning with its more natural partner in the United States.

  • EVEN CHINESE EXPERTS THINK SIMILARLY Yun believes Beijing sees India’s road-building as “an attempt to stab it in the back while China was trying to deal with” growing tensions with the United States and international criticism over the COVID-19 pandemic

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN LARGELY RESERVED {THANKS TO INDIA}

  •  In May, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells warned of China’ s “constant aggression, the constant attempt to shift the norms, to shift what is the status quo. That has to be resisted whether it’s in the South China Sea … or whether it’s in India’s own backyard.” India has traditionally cautioned Washington privately against taking too public a role in India’s disputes with China.

WHAT ABOUT THE PROSPECT OF A WAR?

  •  In the near term, India will be seeking to return to the pre-May status quo at the LAC, including at Pangong Lake. If Beijing balks, Delhi’s immediate options to respond are limited and unpalatable. While there have been calls inside India for military retaliation and escalation, amid a global recession and pandemic Delhi will be reluctant to start a war.

INDIA IS GOING TO BE THE MARKET FOR CHINA

  • Over the long term, there’s more at stake than the fingers of Pangong Lake. And there are more effective, albeit less immediate, ways of imposing costs on China for its border adventure. India already enjoys the world’s third-largest military budget. Within a decade it will likely be the world’s most populous country, with the fourth-largest economy.
  • Many in China know this, which is why, despite its palpable disdain for India, Beijing has over the years sought to avoid a dramatic rupture with Delhi.

BUT STILL, BOTH MUST PREPARE FOR IT!!!

  •  Whatever be the calculus, both countries should prepare for a more confrontational posture from the other in the years ahead.

 

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